Break the opponent's balance before you attack

WRESTLING – I will be competing in my first takedown challenge in April 30. I have been thinking a lot about tactics. Which takedowns should I own and practice? Should I focus on offense or defense? (Offense) Should I train to be powerful, flexible, or nimble?

These seemed to be the choices to make in wrestling – to determine what type of fighter I want to be.

Then I encountered this quote.

In war, as in wrestling, the attempt to throw the opponent without loosening his foothold and upsetting his balance results in self-exhaustion, increasing in disproportionate ratio to the effective strain put upon him.

Strategy: Second Revised Edition (Meridian) by B.H. Liddell Hart

Of course! There’s a lot more to taking an opponent down than technique or power in the execution…

When you executed the takedown, did you set up your positions such that you are in a most advantageous position, and your opponent in the most disadvantageous?

The setup matters more.

It’s the same in negotiation. Sure, tactics are useful – have a set of questions to ask when the interviewer asks you “Do you have any questions for me?” Have a scripted answer for “Tell me about yourself.”

But rewards for getting those right are incremental. The 20% of inputs that bring fruit to 80% of the results happen long before you face each other in the table.

Did a friend tell his boss “You have to hire her” or were you found as just another resume in the stack? Do you have a BATNA? Are you even playing the right game? Maybe you should be doing something else other than applying for jobs.

In Judo, they have a term for this. Kuzushi. It means to break an opponent’s balance in order to minimize the effort and maximize the likelihood of taking him down.

In wrestling, in job-hunting, like in most things, the battle is won long before the attempt is made.

Subscribe to

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.